Is a long-time practitioner of insight meditation, lived in a Buddhist monastery for over eight years. He has a PhD in Philosophy and Religion with a specialization in Buddhist Studies, and now directs Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs in six Bay Area medical centers. Bob studied with the renowned Burmese masters Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Sayadaw, Hlaing Tet Sayadaw, Dr. Rina Sircar and Pokokhu Sayadaw, and has experience with 32 parts of the body, 4 elements and charnel ground meditations. Bob has completed training with Jon Kabat-Zinn and is a certified mindfulness-based stress reduction teacher having been certified by UMass Medical Center.
So, welcome, everyone.
We’ll begin with the poem from Hafiz about “don’t let this fool you, there’s a ruby buried inside here.” And tonight, it could be our office has ruby as well.
It’s this small ruby that everyone wants.
It’s falling out on the road and some thinks it’s in the East,
While others think it’s in the West.
Some say, it’s among the primitive rocks.
Others say, no, it’s in the deep waters.
___ instinct told him it was inside.
And he carefully wrapped it up in his heart cloth.
The ruby inside. So, I got a note. I think it was this morning. Could have been yesterday. I think it was today. It was a great question. And so this talk is dedicated to that note. And the note said, “What are the healing aspects of the ___ the body?”
And healing, of course, is a very large word. The other night, I spoke about some healings from a friend of mine that had… that she attributed the practice of the ___ that helped prolong her cancer diagnoses for 5 or 6 years. And then, from this other person, we talked about the healing that came about through her earlier life of a lot of sexual abuse, and healing herself through the practices of the body. And she said about taking her own body, her own life.
And tonight, what I want to speak about is even deeper implications of healing with the 32 practices of the body meditation. And so we’ve been practicing this for a few days now and I know at least, in some of the interviews, and so forth, you know, I’m here, that it’s this practice is helping to open up into our life, to our physical body, to our thoughts, to our emotions, to our memories, to our dreams, from the beautiful poem by Martha Elliot that our history is here inside our body.
And we never quite know what’s going to popup. I, myself, visited some areas, particularly earlier today in the first grouping of time when I had a very severe bacterial infection and it came along with a pus and before you know, it’s like 20 years ago, that’s right back in it. And so, wow, what’s in the body. What’s stored inside our bodies are life.
So the healing begins within the body and it’s a normal state that the Buddha spoke about in developing and establishing the foundations of mindfulness, said that first begin with the body. And I think that maybe we’re beginning to see particularly in this type of practice that it’s an inside job, it’s not an outside job. It’s not an out of the body experience, but actually having a visual and experiential, and direct in-the-body experience.
When we speak of healing, we’re speaking about some of the profoundest teachings within the Dharma of the healing, of our own hearts, of freedom, freedom from suffering. So today, we want to talk about this path of freedom. Perhaps, to help us to become in the service of becoming more free of our stories that have enslaved us. And we’re learning as these days to sit with ourselves, and as we know, it’s not so easy. Sometimes, I think the practices that can ___ to walking into a ___ is it’s starring me, myself, and I—the joys, and the sorrows. That’s all there.
And of course, looking at Spirit Rock, you know, it’s kind of like Bambiland. It’s beautiful. It’s pastoral. There’s birds, there’s deer. But if they only knew what was going on inside here in our minds. They’re like, “Oh, you’re going to Spirit Rock? It’s so nice there.” “Come and see there for a few days.” The ___ says it’s like a guest house that’s being visited by many. The ___ speaks about it. And the guest house—it can be a joy, a depression, a ___, some momentary awareness comes as unexpected visitor. And ___ invites to something very ___, welcome and entertain them all even if there are ___ of sorrows. It’s a pretty radical gesture. Treat each guest honorably. Maybe clearing you out for some new delights, the dark thoughts, the malice. Meet them at the door and invite them it. That’s a very radical way most of the time in our life, in our world, when you want to get away from all these uncomfortable feelings.
Saint Augustine writes a little commentary of the times. This was written in the year 399. That’s a long time ago. 399—not even a—it’s not even on the thousands. It’s 399. And he says, people travel to wander the height of the mountains and at the huge waves of the seas, at the long courses of the rivers, people wander the vast composite of the ocean in the circular motions of the stars and then they walk right past themselves without ever wondering.
Walking right past themselves without ever wondering. And if you can say that we’re doing something different here, you need to look inside ourselves. I want to just say, ___ for the deep work that everyone is doing here. Yes, every one of you. Every one of you.
It may seem ironic, even paradoxical, to begin to open to work with the pain of ourselves, but I want to also just support that this ___ wisdom for many different spiritual traditions—psychological traditions, philosophical traditions that point to the sense of turning in.
When I was 16, I grew up in the Boston area and I was a new driver. And I had to learn to drive in snow, and often, when I would get in the skid, my impulse was to turn away from the skid. That was scary. But the more that I did that, the more I skidded out. I was telling my dad about that one day, he said, “Bob, before you get out of the skid, you have to turn into it.”
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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